Who doesn’t love hiking? On the trail we are immersed in the open air, wildlife, beautiful, rugged terrain, fresh water streams, and… ankle injuries? Yes, you heard that right. Hiking often goes hand-in-hand with some fairly severe ankle twists, sprains, and even fractures or breaks! It’s not hard to guess why, mind you, because from loose rocks, to uneven footpaths, hiking poses a big threat when it comes to the wellness of your ankles. Don’t despair though, we’re not asking you to pack away your hiking gear and take to the treadmill instead. Rather, we’re here to chat to you about how ankle injuries during your hike can be prevented, and why being mindful of their probability and severity puts you in good stead to steer clear of them!
Firstly, let’s take a look at what it means to injure your ankle. More often than not, ankle injuries involve the ankle joints, and this is largely because of the joints’ construction. Three bones connect here, thus making it a magnet for possible injury. Hurting your ankle therefore means harming the ligaments in this area, or even the bones itself. Both scenarios involve a great deal of pain and discomfort, therefore making the ankle a hot-spot for injury prevention.
Sprains and breaks, respectively, can cause a lot of distress. They not only ruin your hike, but will most likely throw you off of your fitness routine, keep you off of the dance floor, and steal your sleep. In fact, the severity of ankle injuries has a lot to do with the complexity and sensitivity of the ankle itself. When sprains occur, your ankle’s tissues and ligaments are forced to contort in unnatural ways, often causing severe discomfort and pain for a duration of time – all the tissues are so intricately connected in this area that their recovery can take much longer than expected. In more severe cases, the ankle may break, leaving the foot without any support or mobility. Admittedly, this is the worst case scenario, but, once again, the complex nature of the ankle joint makes the likelihood of a break that much more possible. Both injuries do, however, share one very significant quality: both require treatment.
It is clear, then, that avoiding an ankle injury is your best bet. Luckily, we have some tips to help you do just that. Take a look:
- Know the area in which you will be hiking. Being familiar with your surroundings is always a good idea: knowing what the paths will look like, whether it is wet or dry terrain, and whether you’ll be required to scale great heights or descend from them, is vital in your planning process. Knowing what to expect will give you a jumpstart when preventing injury.
- Wear proper footwear and socks. You’d be surprised by how many people wear the incorrect footwear on a hike. Trainers just won’t cut it on most off-road tracks, so investing a shoes with good tread and decent support is absolutely key. Make sure, too, that your socks are breathable and that they offer their own support.
- Always carry the appropriate supplies. While you probably know you’ll need to pack a good amount of water, you might not have considered the following: Band-Aids, hiking sticks, and food. All too often we think, “nah, I’ll never need that,” and then, just as Murphy planned, we graze ourselves or need a sugar boost. Remember the best offense is defense.
If, however, you’ve not managed to tick off all of the aforementioned tips, or if life just throws you a curveball and you injure yourself while hiking, it’s good to know what to expect. Take a look at a few symptoms that might accompany your ankle injury, as well as what you can do to once it happens.
- Pain When Walking
- Immobile Ankle: Difficulty Moving It
- Your Ankle is Sensitive to Touch
If you experience any of the above, the best thing you can do is to take pressure off of the foot and make your way down the trail. For this reason, it’s very important that you don’t go hiking alone in areas you are unfamiliar with. Always make sure you stay in contact with someone during the hike. Once home, though, there are a few things you can do to alleviate the pain:
- Apply Ice: Applying ice to the injured area will reduce the inflammation and pain. Apply an ice-pack – or bag of peas – for ten minutes at a time for the most effective results.
- Compress the Ankle: Applying a compression bandage to the injure ankle will help reduce the swelling. Wrap the bandage tightly around the ankle, though be mindful of keeping the blood circulating properly. Keep the ankle wrapped until the swelling stops.
- Elevate the Ankle: Lie on your back and elevate your injured ankle via the use of pillows. Keeping the ankle elevated will ensure that the pain is reduced and that the inflammation is lessened. Remain in this position for a few hours.
- Keep it Moving: If you can and it doesn’t increase your pain move the ankle in circles and pump the ankle up and down to try to prevent it from getting stiff.
- Visit a Physical Therapist: The best thing you can do is visit a professional, qualified, hands-on physical therapist. Not only will a physical therapist relieve and treat the pain, but he/she will effectively treat the root-cause of the problem. You’ll find out whether you have a sprain, fracture, or something entirely different, and you’ll be given effective exercises to do at home, thereby ensuring that having a pain-free ankle is permanent.
If you feel as though you have had an ankle injury in the past, or you just need some information about how to prevent one in the future, why not contact us today? We invite you to ask about our free discovery visit and we look forward to assisting you with anything you may need. Remember, we’re here to help; we cannot wait to hear from you!
For even more tips on hiking without stiffness, soreness, or pain you can click the image below.